Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KŌKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..


Scientific name:

 Porphyrio hochstetteri



Conservation status:

 Endemic. Nationally critical

Mainland status:

 c. 130 in Murchison Mountains


 63cm, 3kg 


 14 - 20 Years


 October - December


 Grasses, fern rhizomes, snow tussocks

First introduced to Tiri:

 2 birds in 1991

Population on Tiri:

 4 pairs and a variable number of chicks and/or young adults depending on time of year

Total population:



Takahe - photographer: Simon Fordham
Belonging to the same family as the successful pūkeko, the takahē, sadly not so successful, was thought to be extinct until the rediscovery of c. 250 birds in the Murchison Mountains of Fiordland in 1948. Since then their numbers surviving in the wild have declined, fluctuating between 110 and 160 birds. 

The takahē has brown eyes, a scarlet red bill and shield, red legs and feet. The plumage ranges from an iridescent dark blue head, neck and breast and peacock blue shoulders to olive green and blue back and wings. They do have wings despite being flightless. The juveniles have a black bill and black plumage.

They form persistent, sometimes life-long, pairs and stray from their permanent territories only in winter in search of food, usually returning to the same territories in the summer. In the wild, takahē live in high-altitude hidden valleys, feeding on snow tussocks and on fern rhizomes. On the offshore islands and mainland sanctuaries to which they have been introduced, they survive on grasses and fern rhizomes, digesting only the plant juices and not the fibres.

Takahe (Bossy Rossy) - photographer: Max McRae
Takahē pairs call back and forth to each other in duet in a very deep resonant 'kloomph', whilst their normal contact call by day or night is a very loud, weka-like 'cooet'.

The conservation status of the takahē remains critical, despite an intensive programme over many years to try to maximise their numbers. Techniques used have included captive breeding, the removal of eggs from the wild for incubation and hand-rearing (by puppets), and the translocation of takahē to pest-free islands and protected mainland sanctuaries, from where some young birds have been moved back to the wild population in the Murchison Mountains.

Tiritiri Matangi has played its part in this programme. Two takahē, both males (Mr Blue and Stormy), were released on Tiri in 1991, followed by a female (JJ) in 1992. Further releases have occurred since then and many birds have been born on the Island. 

More detailed information about the takahē on Tiritiri Matangi can be found here, and you will find lots of information on takahē at New Zealand Birds Online and on the National Recovery Programme website.

Photography by: 
 Simon Fordham © (top right) and by Max McRae © (bottom left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking